Singapore - They may lack the flash, sex appeal and superstar names synonymous with luxury marques such as Gucci, Vuitton and Prada, but the latest continental labels to land in our malls make up for it in their stealth wealth cachet.
Brioni, an Italian fashion house specialising in made-to-order men's suits and luxurious tailoring, recently unveiled its first standalone boutique at Marina Bay Sands. The company, which has created suits worn by Pierce Brosnan in all his appearances as James Bond, and Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, has long appealed to the more discerning male customer. As Francesco Pesci, chief executive officer of Brioni, explains, the true pedigree of a Brioni suit is determined by how it feels when worn, and not just by its appearance.
"The Brioni suit is hand-tailored and crafted using traditional Italian tailoring techniques," says Mr Pesci, who was in town for the opening of the 1,720 sq ft store in September. "And just like how there may be many beautiful cars on the street and the difference between a luxury car and a regular one lies in its engine, the way a suit is crafted on the inside changes its performance. The comfort of a Brioni suit is second to none."
In an era when brandishing brand logos or even an "It" bag borders on sartorial vulgarity, understated luxury is the ultimate status symbol. And lesser-known European houses are more than happy to satiate the savvy shopper's thirst for low-key style.
"Like a private members' club, we are recognised by those in the know," says Marco Franchini, chief executive officer of Italian leather goods label Valextra. "We believe that true luxury lies in absolute discretion and exclusivity as symbolised by our signatures such as our Costa black ink (used to hand-lacquer the edges of bags) and the discreet V-cut detail. It takes a knowledgeable eye to identify our products and only a true connoisseur of style would truly appreciate and value our rich heritage, craftsmanship, innovation and uniqueness."
The 75-year-old house has just opened its 800 sq ft boutique in Paragon, which embodies minimalist chic, from its slate-thin shelves to logo-free products. And the brand's focus on understated classics have found a following among very well-known fans, including Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, David Beckham and Michelle Obama. And while the Singapore outpost for Brioni is the first in the world to feature the brand's new store concept, it is more about sleek architecture than the ostentatious glamour associated with Italian fashion.